Beyond the Headlines

Peter Kelly has some explaining to do

Posted: Feb 22, 2012 1:05 PM ET Last Updated: Feb 22, 2012 1:05 PM ET
UPDATE: Wednesday, 1:29pm - Mayor Peter Kelly issues statement that he will not seek re-election in October. Kelly says he intends to complete his term. 

Here is Kelly's full statement: Kelly.doc 


 
In the 1950's, the classic TV show "I Love Lucy" spawned the catchphrase "Lucy, you have some explaining to do."
 
On Tuesday, reporters descended on city hall hoping Mayor Peter Kelly would  do some explaining about his role as the executor of the estate of Mary Thibeault.
 
Thibeault died in 2004, but in a story first published last week in The Coast, and then followed by several media outlets including the CBC, it was revealed her estate is still tied up in probate.
Kelly is the executor. Several of Thibeault's heirs, frustrated with the delays, have hired a lawyer.
 
But when Tuesday's council meeting opened, Kelly wasn't there. Deputy mayor Bill Karsten took the chair with no explanation for the mayor's absence.
 
That's unusual for two reasons. First, councillors usually send their regrets when they miss a meeting. Second, Peter Kelly rarely misses council meetings. In fact, according to city hall, he has only missed three meetings in the past three years. So, when his office refused to tell reporters why he was MIA, speculation ran rampant.
 
Twitter went wild. Posters began a 'Where's Waldo" campaign to find the mayor, offering wildly funny suggestions and photoshopped pictures to explain his absence.
 
By mid-afternoon Kelly's office responded to reporters requests by saying the mayor had a "personal appointment". No other explanation was offered. It should be noted that appointment also kept the mayor from attending council's evening session.
 
So far, Kelly has refused to answer questions about the estate. Kelly says it's a private matter.
 
Reporting details of the private lives of elected officials is the subject of great debate. In the United States, mainstream media seem to gleefully report the sordid details of politicians affairs, out of wedlock children, and sexual orientation. In Canada, the media has been somewhat more restrained.
 
A prime example came last week. After Public Safety Minster Vic Toews accused opponents of the Harper governments internet privacy legislation of "standing with pornographers" one angry blogger used Twitter to publish lurid details of Toews' messy divorce. The details came from public court documents; documents the Ottawa press gallery apparently were well acquainted with but had declined to publish. The rationale was simple. The divorce was solely an issue between Toews and his wife, and had no impact on his ability to do his job.
 
This feels different.
 
When we write our wills we rely on the honesty and integrity of our executor. That's why we usually appointed a trusted friend or family member. When Mary Thibeault appointed Peter Kelly as executor of her estate, she had every right to expect he would handle her affairs in a timely and fair manner. By all accounts, that hasn't happened.
 
As taxpayers, we expect the same of our elected officials. We trust them to look out for our best interests.
 
That's why although he may not like it, in the minds of many, Peter Kelly has some explaining to do.
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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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